Aberfeldy to welcome Scotland’s top musicians for weekend of Gaelic music

In two weeks Aberfeldy will host its very first Fèis Thatha for a weekend of Gaelic music tuition with an impressive line-up of tutors including singer-songwriter Findlay Napier and Gaelic singer Maeve Mackinnon. 

Fèis Thatha (Tay Festival) will hold a music weekend for all the family on Saturday 14th - Sunday 15th September at Breadalbane Community Campus. Participants will have the opportunity to develop skills in Gaelic language, song, music, drama and dance. Instrument tuition on offer includes fiddle, guitar, percussion, song, whistle, pipes and chanter. 

As well as offering all day tuition for P4-S6 on both days, younger children, P1-3, have the chance to join in through Fèis Bheag (Bheag is the Gaelic word for small or little) which will run 2 hour sessions over the weekend. The Cròileagan (Gaelic playgroup) is free for children aged 0-5 and for adults there will be a variety of music, language and cookery classes to pick from.  

On Saturday night there will be the highly anticipated tutors cèilidh at Aberfeldy Town Hall which will see all the tutors take to the stage. The stellar line-up includes Maeve Mackinnon (Gaelic song), Steve Fivey (percussion), Karys Watt (fiddle), Findlay Napier (guitar and singer-songwriter), Patsy Reid (fiddle) and Callum Douglas (pipes). The cèilidh is open to everyone and tickets can be bought online or on the door (those attending the Fèis gain free entry).

Fèis, (plural Fèisean), is the Gaelic word for festival or feast, and has become synonymous with the Fèis movement; a group of 47 Gaelic arts tuition festivals, mainly for young people, which now take place throughout Scotland, many of which are run by volunteers. Fèisean nan Gàidheal, one of the most successful arts initiatives in Scotland, is the independent umbrella association of the Fèis movement and is a membership organisation that offers a range of services to its members including grant-aid, training, insurance, and instrument loans. 

Gill Steele, Chairperson, Fèis Thatha, said: “We are delighted to be running the very first Fèis Thatha next month. Fèisean are a great way for children and adults to develop their Gaelic and music skills whilst experiencing working collaboratively with some of the country’s best folk musicians so we are excited to be offering this in the Tayside region.”

“No experience is needed for any of the classes, you can be an experienced musician or just fancy trying your hand at something totally new – there will be something for every member of the family and all levels will be catered for. Attending a Fèis is a great way to start learning a new skill and many of Scotland’s top musicians began their musical careers through the Fèis movement including BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Lauren MacColl and Rachel Newton.”

Megan Leishman will be an Assistant Tutor at Fèis Thatha and has past experience of attending fèisean. She commented: “I was first introduced to traditional music at a fèis and since then I have been involved in a cèilidh band through school and many other musical endeavours. It gives young people in particular a brilliant chance to try instruments they might not have even heard of before and spark their interest in Scottish traditional music. Fèisean are a great way to ensure that the younger generation have the opportunity to learn more about Gaelic language and culture.”

Prices range from £5 per session for Fèis Bheag and adult classes to £30 for the whole Fèis Thatha. For further information or to book places or tickets for the cèilidh, please visit www.feisthatha.com or email feis_thatha_2019@hotmail.com

Image: Findlay Napier

Abigail Shepherd